tiffany lam '18   world health organization

tiffany lam '18
world health organization


Tiffany is a senior at Harvard College, concentrating in Human Development and Regenerative Biology with a secondary in Psychology. Though born and raised in the sunny state of California, Tiffany now spends the majority of her time on the East Coast. Outside of WorldMUN, she is involved in the Harvard Crimson, Harvard Yearbook Productions, and Crimson Care Collaborative. During her free time, she enjoys reading fiction books and watching movie trailers on Youtube. After serving on Secretariat at WorldMUN 2017, Tiffany is excited to return to WordMUN 2018 as a chair and looks forward to all the new experiences it will bring!

Topic: Mental Health Classification

An accurate diagnosis is a vital component in medicine—from determining the most effective treatments for patients to allowing scientists all around the world to communicate through a universal language. It is used to accurately record public health information such as mortality and morbidity rates in order to influence health service planning and resource allocation. Mental health classification, however, has always faced many controversies. Although the official global system for health information is the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD), it is used in combination with the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5) in certain countries when it comes to classifying mental disorders. The DSM-5, which has its fair share of criticism, provides criteria for specific diagnoses while the ICD-10 provides the global code. The DSM-5 and ICD-10, however, often experience disconnects and no correlation between diagnoses. The systems as they exist are highly problematic; often times, patients don’t receive the right diagnoses because they don’t show the exact combination of symptoms designated. This can have many healthcare implications such as not being covered for the proper medication. Other times, many patients, after a wrong diagnosis, will experience stigma in society or a self-fulfilling prophecy. Recognizing the issues that plague our current system, delegates are challenged to come up with an innovative way to tackle the classification of mental health disorders, both within and between countries. The questions before the World Health Organization are thus varied and complex: where do you draw the line between abnormal and normal? What constitutes a disorder? What kind of factors (social, behavioral, cultural) should be taken into account in defining disorders? Taking a broader perspective, what kind of framework should the system have? How do you make the system more accessible? Who/what countries should be responsible for spearheading the development of a classification system? And how should successful implementation of the new system in all countries be facilitated?